Saturday, July 22, 2023

Traveling Solo~~ Days 6-8 ~~~ MO/KS Road trip

 Hey!  Thanks for stopping in.  If you have not already read part one, click here:Part 1 Days 1-3

Wagon wheel ruts behind me, darker green grass

or part two, click here:Part 2 Days 4&5 then come back here for days 6 - 8.  Here we go!


6.26.23 It's zoo day!  When I made the decision to take this trip, I knew I had to come to Wichita so I could go to the Sedgwick County Zoo.  I had been following them on social media for quite some time and it seemed like such a lovely place.  I love zoos and I try to go to them whenever I can. I woke up bright and early to get to the zoo ahead of the heat, and hopefully the crowds. 

For starters, this zoo is GORGEOUS! It was laid out smartly and the paths were wide and smooth.  There was a decent amount of people there, and so many kids.  What's with that? 


    It took me over four hours to peruse the zoo.  While walking around I realized that I really enjoyed going to the zoo by myself.  I could linger at the chimpanzee exhibit as long as I wanted, and I was able to skip the reptile business altogether.  It didn't matter!  I could do what I wanted and didn't have to share the experience.  That being said, I really missed Andrew.  He is my zoo loving companion, and his socks would have been knocked off at this one. I think my favorite was the chimpanzees.  They are just incredible.  This chimp loved his fruits and vegies: Yum!

The sweet guy held on to his ball while he was
asleep so no one else could play with it.

I'm pretty sure he wanted to come home with me!

    Sedgwick Zoo has a very wide variety of animals.  I even got to see a full-size hippo, sort of.  She was in the water (I don't blame her, it was HOT) but it was the closest I had ever been to a full-size hippo.  Pittsburgh has a pygmy hippo, and I don't think any other zoo I have been to has had any big ole' hippos.  I wonder how many more times in just a few seconds I can type the word hippo in a sentence...

The most I could see of said full size hippo!

Anyway... they also had two gorgeous black rhinos. They were a mom and her son, who was about two and a half years old.  I spent a good amount of time watching them and talking to the zookeeper about them.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Sadly, a day or two after my visit the mom rhino, Bibi suddenly came down with colic from a severe torsion in her large intestine and had to be euthanized.  She was 25.  I feel so fortunate that I got to see her when I did. 

 Here are two small videos I took: Bibi and KJ and Beating the heat  


 The rest of the time I just meandered around taking in all the other sights and sounds. One of my other favorite animals was the baby orangutan. He had a burlap sack that he was hiding under and playing.  It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

You can see that video here: Baby orangutan.  Mom also got in on the act and she was adorable as well.Mom orangutan

I had a wonderful time at the zoo but by mid-afternoon it was HOT and getting crowded, so I decided I had had enough.  I headed back to the hotel to relax the rest of the evening.  At some point during the evening I decided to look up the hours for the botanical garden that I was very excited about going to the next day.  DOH!  They are closed the last Tuesday of each month, so I would not be able to go.  I was super bummed out and very annoyed with myself for not paying more attention to the schedule.  Le sigh.  Now to figure out what to do tomorrow...


6.27.23  Woke up this morning feeling some anxiety because my plan for the day was not possible.  I didn't know what to do but while I was trying to figure it out, these CRAZY clouds and storm rolled in. 

I waited out the storm which was quick and then decided to head out for a hike.
I found a really nice city park called Chisholm Creek Park and walked about six miles or so on the bike path.  It was quiet and really lovely.  I would have stayed longer but I saw another lady there who told me to be careful, that they had recently had some reports of "people" in the woods bothering visitors for money.  That made me a bit uncomfortable so after that I turned around and headed back to my car.

I left the park after my hike and headed to the riverfront.  I had read about a sculpture there that I wanted to check out, along with the Veteran's Memorial Park.  I had no idea the size of this sculpture though, so I was mesmerized when I rolled up and saw it.  The "Keeper of the Plains" sculpture was placed in 1974.  He is 44 feet tall and is made out of weather resistant steel.  There was a little park near the base of the statue that had an incredible display describing the lifestyle of the Plains Indians. Keeper of the Plains



Also along the riverfront was the Veteran's Memorial Park. I was incredibly moved as I walked along the river and looked at all the different monuments and memorials.  They had one for each war or conflict American military has been involved in, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

Vietnam War

Operation Freedom

Korean war

As I was finishing up at the riverfront, the rainclouds moved back in so I headed back to the hotel to make a game plan for the next day.  I couldn't decide if I was going to stick around Wichita and go to the botanical garden, or if I would head out of, still not Dodge, just Wichita. 


6.28.23 Slept ok last night.  Still unsure of what I wanted to do but, in the end, I decided to skip the botanical garden and head further West.  I had another fort in mind to check out so that's the direction I headed. I made a quick pit stop at a place called Pawnee Rock.  Pawnee Rock was originally a council place for several Indian tribes, as well as a place where battles were fought. Later it served as a lookout for wagon trains on the Santa Fe trail, and a place for the tribes to hang out to ambush the travelers and cattle herds.  It was originally about 150 feet high but the majority of it was destroyed in the 1870's when it was mined for the stone to be used in buildings. It is currently only about 50-60 feet high.  


Just down the road from Pawnee, I arrived to Fort Larned.  In my mind, it looked similar to Fort Scott that I had visited a few days prior. I parked and walked across a bridge to get to the fort.  At that point, I literally stopped in my tracks.  I could not have been more incorrect about them looking similar.  They looked like they were built and utilized in separate centuries, but they were in fact built and utilized in about the same 20-year period.   Where Fort Scott was "fancy", Fort Larned was bare bones-ish.  The buildings were predominantly single story, and much smaller. The grounds themselves were a lot larger at Larned but just overall Scott was more impressive at first glance.  And second, and third...

One thing I appreciated about Larned all the authenticity of it.  All of the buildings here were original with the exception of the storage shed (per the park ranger).  They had several buildings that Scott did not, and I found those buildings interesting.  One of them in particular was the Quartermaster storehouse.  I think what I liked about it was how organized it was/would have been.  There was a specific place for everything. The uniforms and clothing was divided by item, size and gender. Pots and pans were hung on the ceiling.  They even had coffins (pretty sure empty) stored in here. As an aside, on this trip I was able to see several old timey pine boxes.  People were really a lot smaller back then judging by the size of them.  It was interesting to me, but that could be my love of organizing showing.  After a couple hours of perusing the fort, I wanted to go check out one more thing that I read about.

Just five miles away down some total and complete cow roads, I found what I was looking for.  The wagon ruts from the Santa Fe trail wagon trains.  They were very hard to photograph, I read that summer was actually the hardest time to see them due to the grass growth.  Still, I could tell where they were, and when I walked around the area, I could actually feel them under my feet. I found this completely fascinating, and super cool!   You can see the darker green grass lines in the photo below, those are where the ruts are. 

After that, I had enough of the heat and I headed to my stop for the evening in Great Bend, KS. I made these notes in my journal that night, "I can't believe I have been out here for over a week now.  I feel like I am really in my groove, and I am finally relaxing enough to go with the flow and just "be". I cannot fathom missing all this if I had chickened out a few days ago and gone home. I'm kind of proud of myself for hanging tough.  It's so dang hot though! UGGGHHHHH"

Thanks for reading!  
Love to all.

More photos of these three days:




I think he is following me.



I managed to catch (ha ha, pun totally intended)
this fish jumping out of the water while recording and get this screen grab.